A new program matching a state agency with local groups could enhance tourists' visits to select areas of Michigan, including the Marquette area.
The Michigan Department of Transportation recently launched a program in which local tourism groups "adopt" a state welcome center, and the center between Marquette and Harvey is the first facility in the state operating under the program.
Joining forces with MDOT in operating the center is the Marquette Convention and Visitor Bureau, which will reassign staff members to the welcome center during busy tourism periods. The extra workers at the center will enable the facility to be open seven days a week and better serve visitors to the region.
In addition, MCVB employees will be able to highlight attractions and offerings of the area they are familiar with through their work with the bureau.
Along with MDOT, the program is being offered under a partnership with the Michigan Hospitality Committee and the Michigan Travel Commission.
Officials with the program hope to get local tourism groups to participate at all 14 welcome centers in the state, including six in the Upper Peninsula. In addition to Marquette, U.P. welcome centers are located in Iron Mountain, Ironwood, Menominee, Sault Ste. Marie and St. Ignace.
In addition to providing better services to visitors who stop by the welcome centers, the program was initiated as a way to save money by spreading out the cost of operating the facilities.
There's certainly nothing wrong with operating state tourism facilities more efficiently, especially when the arrangement should give the state's economically important tourism industry a boost.